UK Labour leader says there is no chance of returning to free movement with the EU
Despite having supported the idea of keeping the freedom of movement between the UK and the 27 EU countries three years ago, the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, now claims that any return of the policy is a “red line” for the party he leads.
He has also ruled out the possibility of introducing a “Swiss-style” deal with the EU, through which the UK would have access to the single market in exchange for opening its borders for EU citizens to move to its territory under facilitated rules.
“A Swiss deal simply wouldn’t work for Britain. We’ll have a stronger trading relationship, and we’ll reduce red tape for British business, but freedom of movement is a red line for me. It was part of the deal of being in the EU, but since we left, I’ve been clear it won’t come back under my government,” Starmer said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
He added that the Brexit deal should now be left behind as it is, and Britain should “face the future” instead.
In January 2020, Starmer, who at the time was running to become the leader of the Labour Party, had promised that he would manage to keep the freedom of movement with the EU as a part of the Brexit deal, saying at the time: “I want families to be able to live together, whether that’s in Europe or here. We have to make the case for freedom of movement.”
Defending his new stance regarding the freedom of movement, Starmer’s spokesperson said that he had supported it during the negotiations, but now that the talks are over, it is completely understandable to leave that issue behind.
The UK signed the Immigration Act into law in November 2020, which ended the freedom of movement in the UK for all EU citizens without a registered residence on December 31st at 11 pm.
Soon after, the UK announced a new points-based immigration system for skilled workers from third countries in a bid to fill in the gaps created by the absence of the EU labour force in the UK.
Regarding the Swiss-style trade deal with the EU, just over a week ago, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, ruled out the chances of such a thing happening, too. Switzerland is also a non-EU country but is part of the borderless Schengen Area, alongside Norway, which is also a non-EU country.